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Hardware

Open Hardware: Zephyr, Arduino and More

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Hardware
  • nRF9160 Feather LTE IoT and GPS Board Launched for $99

    The board is certified by the Open Source Hardware Association with the hardware licensed with CERN 1.2, mcuboot firmware with Apache 2.0, and documentation with CC-SA-4.0. While we noted in the introduction the board runs on Zephyr and nRF Connect SDK, support for other toolchains and languages should be released soon.

  • Arduino X-ray imaging phantom simulates lung movement

    Imaging phantoms are used to evaluate and test medical devices, such as X-ray machinery, where a human subject would be impractical and/or dangerous. In order to simulate the motion and deformation of a lung, Stefan Grimm created an Arduino-powered phantom at a materials cost of around $350 USD.

    Much of the project’s structure is printed with dissolvable PVA, used as a form for silicone that mimics tissue and plaster for bone. Movement is controlled via three linear and rotary actuator setups outlined here, and the structure can either be pre-programmed or manipulated in real-time using a USB cable and PC.

  • The Science Journal is graduating from Google — coming to Arduino this fall!

    Arduino and Google are excited to announce that the Science Journal app will be transferring from Google to Arduino this September! Arduino’s existing experience with the Science Journal and a long-standing commitment to open source and hands-on science has been crucial to the transfer ownership of the open source project over to Arduino.

    The Google versions of the app will officially cease support and updates on December 11th, 2020, with Arduino continuing all support and app development moving forward, including a brand new Arduino integration for iOS.

    Arduino Science Journal will include support for the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense board, as well as the Arduino Science Kit, with students able to document science experiments and record observations using their own Android or iOS device. The Science Journal actively encourages students to learn outside of the classroom, delivering accessible resources to support both teachers and students for remote or in person activities. For developers, the Arduino version will continue to be open: codes, APIs, and firmware to help them create innovative new projects.

  • This stepper-driven mechanical clock can be set to two different time zones

    Clocks normally tell you the time in your particular location, but what about that person that you know across the country or even on the other side the world? What time is it there? While it’s easy enough to do a web search or do a calculation, in order to find this out at an instant, Jeremy Cook made his own mechanical dual time zone clock.

    The device is powered by an Arduino Nano, which drives a stepper motor to advance each minute. Using physical gear reduction, dual hour gears move at 1/12th the rate of the minute indicator gear, which can be offset to the secondary time zone of your choosing.

  • ThinkCentre M75n IoT Nano Desktop Features a 6W AMD Athlon Silver 3050e Processor

    Earlier today, we wrote about AMD 3015e dual-core/quad-thread Zen processor with 6W TDP found in some upcoming education laptops from Lenovo. We also noted that two other recent 6W AMD processors had been introduced by the company AMD 3020e and AMD Athlon Silver 3050e.

    When looking for AMD 3020e I got ACER ASPIRE A314-22-A8ST 14″ laptop with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD listed for 9,590 Baht ($309 inc. 7% VAT) – but out of stock – on several Thai websites, but after switching to a US VPN all product reference disappeared, except for Lenovo Ideapad 3 soon getting an AMD 3020e model. None of the laptops are available now, but at least that means AMD does not only target the education market with its 6W SKUs.

    [...]

    The company offers the computer with Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, but I suppose both Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux distributions should work just fine since those two operating systems are certified for the mini PC…

  • Wolf Audio Systems Releases Alpha 3 SX Music Server

    It features a modified-for-audio Windows 10 Pro or the new, proprietary Linux-based WolfOS operating system and offers 4TB storage capacity (expandable to 32TB), 24-bit and DSD playback capability, an upgraded Flux Capacitor 24 MHz master clock and additional improvements. It is a one-chassis design that fits easily into any audio or home entertainment system, and can play back a wide variety of stereo and multichannel audio formats including FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, SACD, DSF, DFF and (PCM) from 16 - 32 bits, 44.1, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 and 384 kHz audio and DSD Native up to DSD1024.

Interview: RISC-V CTO Mark Himelstein

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Hardware

RISC-V doesn’t have the necessary sacks of cash to spread around, however. The brute force approach is closed to Himelstein and his colleagues, so how does he motivate developers who might be on the fence? “I’m working on it,” he admits. “Look at Linux, at Hadoop, at Eclipse, at Apache… They grew up around the contributor model. Contributors to Hadoop are rock stars. It’s exciting. There’s cachet. It’s like being in an exclusive club. It’s hard to say how that happened. It just evolved.”

He contrasts that process to seemingly similar open-source processors like OpenSPARC or OpenPower. Those examples are ex post facto open source, he says. They started out as proprietary commercial products (at Sun and IBM, respectively) and then backed into the open-source world after the fact. “They just hopped on the open-source train.” Nobody in those groups seems to have the same level of enthusiastic self-motivation that you see in, say, Hadoop or Linux circles, he says. “We want to be more like Linux or Hadoop.”

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Hardware Freedom: 3D Printing, RasPi and RPi CM3 Module

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Hardware
  • Can 3D Printing Really Solve PPE Shortage in COVID-19 Crisis? The Myth, and The Facts!

    Amid COVID-19 crisis, we see severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worldwide, to the point that a strict organization like FDA is making exceptions for PPE usage, and there are volunteer effors to try to alleviate this shortage like GetUsPPE. Also, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an Excel spreadsheet file to help calculate the PPE Burn Rate.

    There are many blog posts, video tutorials, and guides that teach people how to print their face shields and masks.

  • Raspberry Pi won’t let your watched pot boil
  • Growing fresh veggies with Rpi and Mender

    Some time ago my wife and I decided to teach our kids how to grow plants. We both have experience as we were raised in small towns where it was common to own a piece of land where you could plant home-grown fresh veggies.

    The upbringing of our kids is very different compared to ours, and we realized we never showed our kids how to grow our own veggies. We wanted them to learn and to understand that “the vegetables do not grow on the shop-shelf”, and that there is work (and fun) involved to grow those.

    The fact that we are gone for most of the summer and to start our own garden just to see it die when we returned seemed to be pointless. This was a challenge. Luckily, me being a hands-on engineer I promised my wife to take care of it. There were two options: we could buy something that will water our plants when we are gone, or I could do it myself (with a little help from our kids). Obviously I chose the more fun solution…

  • Comfile Launches 15-inch Industrial Raspberry Pi Touch Panel PC Powered by RPi CM3 Module

    Three years ago, we noted Comfile has made 7-inch and 10.2-inch touch panel PC’s powered by Raspberry Pi 3 Compute Module. The company has recently introduced a new model with a very similar design except for a larger 15-inch touchscreen display with 1024×768 resolution.

    ComfilePi CPi-A150WR 15-inch industrial Raspberry Pi touch panel PC still features the CM3 module, and the same ports including Ethernet, USB ports, RS232, RS485, and I2C interfaces accessible via terminal blocks, and a 40-pin I/O header.

Open Hardware With Arduino: Counter and MKR ZERO

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Hardware
  • Keep track of your laps in the pool with this Arduino counter

    PeterQuinn925 swims for exercise, and to train for the occasional triathlon, but when doing so he often zones out and forgets how many laps he has swam. To solve this problem without spending a lot of money on a commercial solution, he created his own counter using an Arduino Nano and an ultrasonic sensor.

    The sensor detects when a swimmer approaches, and the system calculates distance based on this, assuming that a lap is roughly 50 yards or meters. This info is announced audibly via a speaker/amplifier using an Arduino speech library and is shown on a 7-segment display.

  • Recreating Rosie the Robot with a MKR ZERO

    While 2020 may seem like a very futuristic year, we still don’t have robotic maids like the Jetsons’ Rosie the Robot. For his latest element14 Presents project, DJ Harrigan decided to create such a bot as a sort of animatronic character, using an ESP8266 board for interface and overall control, and a MKR ZERO to play stored audio effects.

    The device features a moveable head, arms and eyes, and even has a very clever single-servo gear setup to open and close its mouth.

Open Hardware/Modding With Linux, RISC-V and Arduino

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Hardware
  • IoTSDR Linux Board Targets the Development of IoT Gateways with Standard or Custom IoT Protocols (Crowdfunding)

    Xilinx Zynq-7010/-7020 powered iotSDR board by EmbedINN enables the development of IoT gateways with support for LoRa, SigFox, WeightLess, Bluetooth, BLE, 802.15.4, ZigBee, as well as custom IoT protocols.

    The board also supports GPS, Galileo, Beidou, and GLONASS navigation systems thanks to a Maxim Integrated MAX2769 GNSS chip.

  • RISC-V Microconference Accepted into 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference

    We are pleased to announce that the RISC-V Microconference has been accepted into the 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference!

    The RISC-V ecosystem is gaining momentum at such an astounding speed that it wouldn’t be unfair to compare it to the early days of the Linux ecosystem’s growth. There are a plethora of Linux kernel features that have been added to RISC-V and many more are waiting to be reviewed in the mailing list. Some of them resulted from direct discussions during last year’s RISC-V microconference. For example, RISC-V has a standard boot process along with a well-defined supervisor binary specification (SBI) and cpu hotplug feature. KVM support is very close to being merged and just waiting for official ratification of the H extension. NoMMU support for Linux kernel has already been merged.

  • International Space Station Tracker | The MagPi 96
  • Juuke is an Arduino-powered RFID music player for the elderly

    While many of us take playing tunes for granted, whether via MP3s, CDs, or streaming services, for others — such as many that are very young or old — actually figuring out the interface can be a challenge. To make it easier for the elderly (and children) to enjoy music, Ananords and his girlfriend created the Juuke box.

    The Juuke features an RC522 RFID reader to trigger specific songs stored on an SD card via a DFPlayer Mini, using a stereo jack and external powered speakers. The device is controlled by an Arduino Uno, and includes a volume potentiometer along with two light-up buttons — red to play/pause tracks, green for random playback.

Hardware and Devices With Linux or Similar

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Hardware
  • Amazing science from the winners of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2019–20
  • What is an IoT-Ready PC?

    Can your PC or laptop handle IoT applications? This means it should have the ruggedness and extra connectivity support for IoT devices such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi, while supporting OS such as Windows 10 IoT Core.

  • The PongMate CyberCannon Mark III is a surefire way to never lose at beer pong

    If you participate in beer pong, and your skills aren’t up to the challenge, you might be in for a rough time. While “practice makes perfect,” if you’d rather shortcut this process then engineers Nils Opgenorth and Grant Galloway have just the solution with their Arduino-powered PongMate CyberCannon Mark III.

    This wrist-mounted launcher uses a time-of-flight sensor, along with an inertial measurement unit to calculate the vertical and horizontal distance to the red Solo cup, marked with a small laser. Bubble levels help users fix the device in the horizontal direction and five programmable RGB LEDs indicate when it’s ready to shoot.

  • BCM MX4305UE Industrial Mini-ITX Motherboard Features Intel Celeron 4305UE Processor

    The board supports both Windows 10 and Linux distributions.

  • Apollo Lake industrial mini-PC supports Linux

    Vecow’s Linux-ready, -40 to 75°C tolerant “SPC-4010C” industrial mini-PC is built around a dual-core Apollo Lake SoC with up to 8GB RAM, 2x GbE, SATA, HDMI, 4x USB, and 2x mini-PCIe with SIM card and mSATA.

    Vecow announced a minor revision to its Apollo Lake based SPC-4010 mini-PC called the SPC-4010C. If you already know about the SPC-4010, all you need to do is read the following paragraph. However, if like us, you are new to the SPC-4000 series, you may be interested in joining us for a brief tour of all six Apollo Lake based SPC-4000 models below. The fanless systems supports Linux and Win 10 for machine vision, robot control, infotainment, factory automation, intelligent control, and other compact AIoT applications.

System76's Keyboards for GNU/Linux

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Hardware

  • Reimagining the Keyboard

    Your keyboard is king when it comes to input. It’s responsible for your words and your code, carrying you from A to B faster than your mouse. By making the keyboard more efficient, we’ll vastly improve the way you interact with your computer. We’re approaching our keyboard in 3 different ways: Redesigning the keyboard itself, maximizing your efficiency when using it, and empowering you to fully customize your keyboard to your whims.

    [...]

    There’s nothing more enjoyable than typing on a keyboard for hours on end without hitting the wrong key. That’s why we strongly opposed adding a ‘WRONG’ key to the keyboard. That’s also why we’re sticking to 3 key sizes in the design of the keyboard: 1U (letter/number keys), 1.5U (tab keys), and 2U (shift keys). Traditional keyboards are laid out with incredibly long space bars so you can’t use your thumbs, your strongest digit, for functions other than space. Our testing revealed that most space bars are much longer than what’s necessary to reliably and consistently hit the bar, so we decided to break up the space bar into 2 2U keys. Not only did this shorten the length of the space bar and bring useful functions closer to the center of the keyboard, but this also allows you to remap another commonly-used key to where it’s easy for you to smash with your other thumb.

    The new keyboard is designed to work in harmony with Auto-Tiling on Pop!_OS. CEO Carl Richell describes his experience testing the prototype: “I’ve found using the new keyboard layouts with Auto-Tiling is so addictive that when I go to another computer, it feels like I’m in a foreign land.”

  • System76 Talks Up Their Forthcoming Linux Keyboard

    Following in the steps of their hand-crafted Thelio desktops manufactured in-house in Colorado, Linux PC vendor System76 is also working to not only manufacture their own laptops but also other components like their own keyboard.

    System76 continues ramping up their manufacturing equipment and capabilities at their Denver facility and it's looking like the premiere of their keyboard isn't far out with already having prototypes internally.

Kontron debuts hardened OpenWrt stack on new rolling stock computer

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

Kontron’s fanless EN50155-certified “SR-TRACe-G40x” railway server and router runs a hardened, new hypervisor based on OpenWrt called SEC-Line on a Skylake or Apollo Lake CPU and offers 2x SATA, 2x GbE, LTE, WiFi, and GNSS.

Kontron unveiled an “edge data processing router/server gateway” for the rail industry based on 6th Gen Core or Apollo Lake that offers “data-center grade processing and networking to rolling stock.” The EN50155-certified multi-network SR-TRACe-G40x rail computer is promoted for its new, ultra-secure SEC-Line Open Platform hypervisor based on OpenWrt Linux.

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Also: UP Xtreme Lite Whiskey Lake SBC is Made for “Developers on a Budget”

Intel ISPC Compiler and AMD's ROCm AOMP Compiler

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Development
Hardware

  • Intel ISPC Compiler Lands GPU Code Generation Support

    Intel's open-source ISPC (the Intel SPMD Program Compiler) now has preliminary support for code generation targeting their GPUs.

    The Intel SPMD Program Compiler that is focused on C programming with extensions around single program, multiple data programming concepts for leveraging SSE and AVX is now seeing initial support for exploiting the potential of Intel graphics processors.

    ISPC has long worked well for exploiting the potential of AVX/AVX2 and AVX-512 as well as SSE4 while now this SPMD program compiler can begin targeting Intel Gen/Xe Graphics.

    The ISPC support relies upon Intel's oneAPI Level Zero for managing devices and other orchestration.

  • AMD's ROCm AOMP Compiler 11.7-1 Brings OMPD Support, ROCgdb

    The AMD ROCm developer tool engineers have released a new build of AOMP, their LLVM Clang compiler downstream that adds OpenMP support for Radeon GPU offloading until that support ultimately makes it back upstream into LLVM/Clang.

    The ROCm engineers working on AOMP have been doing a great job on keeping their code re-based against the newest upstream LLVM code, which with this release is from just two weeks ago prior to the LLVM 11.0 branching. The AMD developers have been working on upstreaming more of their LLVM/Clang changes albeit that is a lengthy process especially with new Radeon OpenMP code continuing to be written and fine tuned.

Top 10 Cheap Linux Laptops [2020 Edition]

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

One of the most beautiful things about Linux is that it can deliver fluid performance even on low-tier hardware. You don’t need 16GB of RAM or a quad-core processor just to browse the web. In fact, Ubuntu – one of the most popular Linux Distro can run perfectly well with a simple 2GHz dual-core system racking no more than 4GB of RAM and just needs a minimum of 25GB storage space.

This opens up a whole new world for budget computing. By using Linux, you can get way more performance out on a low-spec system giving you a better bang-for-buck performance. With this in mind, we have put together a list of going over the best cheap laptops for Linux.

Top 10 Budget Linux Laptops

To keep the list diverse and useful for everybody, we have included laptops that fall between the $200 to $1000 price bracket. This makes sure there is something for everybody.

Also, only some of the systems discussed here come with Linux pre-installed. Since most manufacturers prefer to ship with Windows, you might need to install Linux manually or set up a dual-boot configuration. We will tell you which laptops come with Linux out of the box and which don’t.

So with that being said, here is our list of the ten best cheap Linux laptops.

Read more

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5 tips for making documentation a priority in open source projects

Open source software is now mainstream; long gone are the days when open source projects attracted developers alone. Nowadays, users across numerous industries are active consumers of open source software, and you can't expect everyone to know how to use the software just by reading the code. Even for developers (including those with plenty of experience in other open source projects), good documentation serves as a valuable onboarding tool when people join a community. People who are interested in contributing to a project often start by working on documentation to get familiar with the project, the community, and the community workflow. Read more

5 reasons to run Kubernetes on your Raspberry Pi homelab

There's a saying about the cloud, and it goes something like this: The cloud is just somebody else's computer. While the cloud is actually more complex than that (it's a lot of computers), there's a lot of truth to the sentiment. When you move to the cloud, you're moving data and services and computing power to an entity you don't own or fully control. On the one hand, this frees you from having to perform administrative tasks you don't want to do, but, on the other hand, it could mean you no longer control your own computer. This is why the open source world likes to talk about an open hybrid cloud, a model that allows you to choose your own infrastructure, select your own OS, and orchestrate your workloads as you see fit. However, if you don't happen to have an open hybrid cloud available to you, you can create your own—either to help you learn how the cloud works or to serve your local network. Read more

today's howtos and leftovers

  • Linux commands for user management
  • CONSOOM All Your PODCASTS From Your Terminal With Castero
  • Install Blender 3D on Debian 10 (Buster)
  • Things To Do After Installing openSUSE Leap 15.2
  • GSoC Reports: Fuzzing Rumpkernel Syscalls, Part 2

    I have been working on Fuzzing Rumpkernel Syscalls. This blogpost details the work I have done during my second coding period.

  • Holger Levsen: DebConf7

    DebConf7 was also special because it had a very special night venue, which was in an ex-church in a rather normal building, operated as sort of community center or some such, while the old church interior was still very much visible as in everything new was build around the old stuff. And while the night venue was cool, it also ment we (video team) had no access to our machines over night (or for much of the evening), because we had to leave the university over night and the networking situation didn't allow remote access with the bandwidth needed to do anything video. The night venue had some very simple house rules, like don't rearrange stuff, don't break stuff, don't fix stuff and just a few little more and of course we broke them in the best possible way: Toresbe with the help of people I don't remember fixed the organ, which was broken for decades. And so the house sounded in some very nice new old tune and I think everybody was happy we broke that rule.

Programming Leftovers

  • Podcast: COBOL development on the mainframe

    Nic reached out when COBOL hit the news this spring to get some background on what COBOL is good for historically, and where it lives in the modern infrastructure stack. I was able to talk about the basics of COBOL and the COBOL standard, strengths today in concert with the latest mainframes, and how COBOL back-end code is now being integrated into front ends via intermediary databases and data-interchange formats like JSON, which COBOL natively supports.

  • What I learned while teaching C programming on YouTube

    The act of breaking something down in order to teach it to others can be a great way to reacquaint yourself with some old concepts and, in many cases, gain new insights. I have a YouTube channel where I demonstrate FreeDOS programs and show off classic DOS applications and games. The channel has a small following, so I tend to explore the topics directly suggested by my audience. When several subscribers asked if I could do more videos about programming, I decided to launch a new video series to teach C programming. I learned a lot from teaching C, and in the process, I came across some meaningful takeaways I think others will appreciate. Make a plan For my day job, I lead training and workshops to help new and emerging IT leaders develop new skills. Outside of regular work, I also enjoy teaching as an adjunct professor. So I'm very comfortable constructing a course outline and designing a curriculum. That's where I started. If you want to teach a subject effectively, you can't just wing it. Start by writing an outline of what topics you want to cover and figure out how each new topic will build on the previous ones. The "building block" method of adding new knowledge is key to an effective training program.

  • Google's Flutter 1.20 framework is out: VS Code extension and mobile autofill support
  • Google Engineers Propose "Machine Function Splitter" For Faster Performance

    Google engineers have been working on the Machine Function Splitter as their means of making binaries up to a few percent faster thanks to this compiler-based approach. They are now seeking to upstream the Machine Function Splitter into LLVM. The Machine Function Splitter is a code generation optimization pass for splitting code functions into hot and cold parts. They are doing this stemming from research that in roughly half of code functions that more than 50% of the code bytes are never executed but generally loaded into the CPU's data cache.

  • Modernize network function development with this Rust-based framework

    The world of networking has undergone monumental shifts over the past decade, particularly in the ongoing move from specialized hardware into software defined network functions (NFV) for data plane1 and packet processing. While the transition to software has fashioned the rise of SDN (Software-defined networking) and programmable networks, new challenges have arisen in making these functions flexible, efficient, easier to use, and fast (i.e. little to no performance overhead). Our team at Comcast wanted to both leverage what the network does best, especially with regards to its transport capacity and routing mechanisms, while also being able to develop network programs through a modern software lens—stressing testing, swift iteration, and deployment. So, with these goals in mind, we developed Capsule, a new framework for network function development, written in Rust, inspired by Berkeley's NetBricks research, and built-on Intel's Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK).

  • This Week in Rust 350
  • Firefox extended tracking protection

    This Mozilla Security Blog entry describes the new redirect-tracking protections soon to be provided by the Firefox browser.

  • Karl Dubost: Browser developer tools timeline

    I was reading In a Land Before Dev Tools by Amber, and I thought, Oh here missing in the history the beautifully chiseled Opera Dragonfly and F12 for Internet Explorer. So let's see what are all the things I myself didn't know.

  • Daniel Stenberg: Upcoming Webinar: curl: How to Make Your First Code Contribution

    Abstract: curl is a wildly popular and well-used open source tool and library, and is the result of more than 2,200 named contributors helping out. Over 800 individuals wrote at least one commit so far. In this presentation, curl’s lead developer Daniel Stenberg talks about how any developer can proceed in order to get their first code contribution submitted and ultimately landed in the curl git repository. Approach to code and commits, style, editing, pull-requests, using github etc. After you’ve seen this, you’ll know how to easily submit your improvement to curl and potentially end up running in ten billion installations world-wide.